In the last few years, the Longmont Public Safety has seen a dramatic increase in the number of stolen vehicles.
According to Detective Cassidy Jones — who handles automobile theft cases that are reported to the Longmont Police Department — there were 434 stolen vehicles reported in Longmont in 2020, compared to the 230 in 2017.
The increase in this kind of criminal behavior is not unique to Longmont — it is a nationwide and statewide trend, Jones said.
Although Longmont Public Safety’s annual statistics on automobile thefts suggest an overall increase in the amount of vehicle thefts within recent years, the nature of the crime makes it difficult for law enforcement to know exact numbers.
“It’s kind of hard to keep statistics on auto thefts because it’s a mobile crime,” Jones said. “If (a vehicle) is stolen in Longmont, it doesn’t mean that it stops in Longmont.”
Individuals who steal vehicles from one city often travel to other cities, where sometimes, the automobile theft case “turns into a series of crimes in various areas,” Jones said.
Lockdownyourcar.org is an authority organization that collects data on and strives to prevent automobile thefts in Colorado. According to the website, in 2020, “about 15% of reported stolen vehicles were linked to other crimes, including homicide, armed robbery, aggravated assault, drugs, burglary, destruction of property and more.”
The website tracks trends related to automobile thefts in Colorado, with studies that show which cities experience the most vehicle thefts, which types of cars that are most frequently stolen and more.
In Longmont, Jones reported seeing a major increase in the theft of newer model Hyundai cars recently.
A couple times a year, Jones said, LPD receives a report from a person who bought a vehicle from a private dealer then learned that the car was stolen when they went to register it.
To prevent this, people planning on buying a car go on Lockdown’s website to check vehicle identification numbers to ensure a car has not been stolen.
Most vehicle theft that occurs in Longmont is the result of people leaving keys in their car.
“People are looking for crimes of opportunity,” Jones said, “instead of having the skills to break into a car, (people) are looking for open doors and car keys.”
Techniques to prevent your car from being stolen, according to Jones, include keeping your car doors locked, your car keys with you, keeping vehicles parked in well-lit areas, keeping valuables out of the vehicle or hidden so as not to be observable.